The Story You’re Not Telling: You Need to Read with Laura Parrott Perry (Plus a Love Warrior Book Giveaway!)

Do you have a story that you’re afraid to tell?

Do you have a secret, shame-based narrative that’s running the show of your day-to-day life?

If so, you are not the only one. Let me tell you a story about a time when an untold shame-story hijacked my day a few years ago.

It started with a bunch of ripe avocados on our kitchen counter one morning.


When I saw them, I realized that one of two things had happened.

Either my husband Jonathan was planning to make guacamole and had left the avocados out to warm up … or he’d intended to make guacamole and then left them out by mistake.

What would I do? Jonathan was asleep, and I had a choice to make. Would I step in to try and “fix” the avocado situation, or would I let them be?

It would be nice to say that I chose the saner option, but I didn’t. When I tried to leave the avocados out, the anxiety felt like too much to handle, so I put them back in the fridge.

My reasoning went like this: If I put them away and Jonathan wanted them out, he might be annoyed.

But if he had made a mistake and I didn’t “help” by correcting it for him, then he’d shame me for not anticipating his needs.

I forgot that Jonathan doesn’t actually do that. (Oops.)

The psychological term for what I did that morning is transference. I reenacted old scripts from childhood in adulthood.

Because here’s the thing: in times past, I was shamed for not putting away other people’s metaphorical avocados.

And as a result, I told myself this story: I must anticipate others’ needs perfectly, or else I will not be loved.

This is a really tiring way to live.

Fortunately, I started writing down my shame stories, which helped me to let go of some painful beliefs.

Our latest guest knows so much about how storytelling can help people to heal.

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome you to the next edition of our You Need to Read video interview series featuring writer, speaker, and survivor Laura Parrott Perry!

Laura blogs at InOthersWords.com, and she’s also a speaker, artist, special education teacher, and the co-founder of the nonprofit Say It, Survivor.

Say It, Survivor is committed to raising awareness about child sexual abuse, educating parents, and bringing survivors into community to reclaim their stories as part of the path to healing.

Quick heads-up: Laura and I reference childhood sexual abuse throughout this interview.

Press play to watch the interview, or watch The Story You’re Not Telling on Youtube.

In this interview, Laura and I discuss …

  • The ripple effects of publishing He Wrote It Down, a powerful story of sexual abuse and healing that went viral in 2015
  • Why childhood traumas are especially devastating (and how to begin healing from them)
  • How to tell your shame-based story so that it stops telling itself through your dysfunctional behaviors
  • The difference between writing from a scar and writing from a wound (and how to use both styles safely)
  • Why women in particular struggle to set healthy boundaries (and how to change that)
  • How to safeguard your own peace and sobriety “like a junkyard dog”

Sound Bytes from Laura’s Interview:

“It was enormously healing … to be led through our story [of abuse] by someone who wasn’t IN our story …. For both Mary and for me, that was the first time I’d ever made it all the way through my story without having to comfort someone else.”

“You think you know what people’s lives are, and so frequently, we don’t. Especially with something that’s so drenched in shame, like sexual abuse. … I remember saying to Mary, ‘I wish our story was extraordinary.’ It’s not. There is nothing extraordinary about our story. The only thing that’s different about it is that we’re telling it.”

“When I wasn’t telling my story, my story was telling itself in other ways in my life. It was making itself known.”

“Kids have a limited understanding of the world to begin with. And so when you get dealt these facts, the facts of your trauma, you don’t understand them, and so you build story around them. But sometimes the story you build around them is at least as harmful as the trauma.”

“When we’re children, our stories get entrusted to the adults in our lives, and sometimes they’re unreliable narrators.”

“If you have a story you’re not telling anywhere in your life, dollars to donuts it’s a shame story … and that is absolutely in charge of your life.”

“If you’re unwilling to deal with that original wound, you will seek out voluntary pains left, right, and center.”

“Girls are raised to be nice … and nice has nothing to do with kindness. Nice is about appeasement, and yielding, and accommodating, and making sure that no one else is ever uncomfortable. And that does not make for good boundary setting.”

“When you see a woman with healthy boundaries, she’s gonna get called a lot of names.”

Book Giveaway Alert!

Win a free copy of one of Laura’s favorite books, Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery!

Here’s how to enter:

Step 1: Subscribe to A Wish Come Clear’s email list. (If you’re already subscribed, move on to step 2!)

Step 2: Leave a comment on this post. (Social media shares are always appreciated, but not required.)

I’ll select a winner randomly on Wednesday, April 12th at noon Central Time. Good luck to all!

Update: The giveaway is now closed; congratulations to our randomly-selected winner, Lizette!

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16 thoughts on “The Story You’re Not Telling: You Need to Read with Laura Parrott Perry (Plus a Love Warrior Book Giveaway!)

  1. Kelly Burke says:

    Excellent! I am thrilled Laura’s message is reaching ever expanding horizons; helping so many begin to heal.

  2. Sharon says:

    I seem to be at a tipping point – where I am trying to look ahead to a new me, the me I am meant to be, but shame and guilt have paid a visit – how do I move forward….. I don’t know the way. saying the words ‘I forgive’ don’t seem to be releasing me.
    Just saw the Shack – when I got home I saw this link, and I thought this might be just what I need…..

    • Sharon, my heart goes out to you in the struggle. Thank you for your honesty – half the struggle with shame and guilt is the tendency we have to hide them!

      Based on Laura’s wise example, one idea to move forward is to ask, “What’s the painful story I’m telling about what happened?” Then examine the story behind the story. I’d also recommend checking out Byron Katie’s The Work (thework.com) to help question and turn around painful thought-stories.

      Wishing you all the best; please circle back and let us know how you’re doing!

  3. Christine says:

    It is sometimes so hard to re-visit the stories inside that make you do the things you do. I had a great childhood, but am sure that a lot of the experiences I had molded me and changed me into the person I am today. My problem is more recent stories that replay over and over again. I recognize them, but how do you move beyond. I see the “red flags”, but how do I move beyond them to a really SAFE place. That is my daily struggle. Sharing ideas like this, in a safe and very positive and nuturing environment is a big help.

    • That’s such a great point, Christine – so many times, there’s an assumption that one can’t have had a great childhood AND be dealing with the effects of trauma, such as those stories you mentioned. (It was so freeing for me to learn that the emotional definition of trauma is anything that was shocking to you personally. It’s totally subjective.)

      And yes, that second step is so key … shifting from just noticing the “replay” stories to actually writing new ones. I’d recommend checking out Dr. Martha Beck’s work (marthabeck.com). She’s my hero, and her books include a lot of practical techniques for dismantling old thought structures and creating new ones in their place.

      What are some of the thought-stories you deal with most often? Am curious to hear if you’d like to share.

      Hope that helps; am cheering you on and am so glad this space feels safe and nurturing for you!

  4. Lizette Andrew says:

    This article was such an unexpected blessing for me. It was just what I needed just when I needed it. Thank you!

  5. Natasha says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. I really resonated with what you discussed regarding the stories and narratives children come up with no matter what kind of trauma they’ve been through. As children we do come up with something that makes sense to us and tries to make sense of the world we are living in. And unfortunately we do rely on adults that may be telling us half-truths or nothing at all. Letting go of those narratives can be very hard as adults; it puts into question your whole life view. This interviewing was healing to listen to.

    • Thank YOU Natasha for taking the time to share that the post spoke out to you! And yes, I too was fascinated by that part of the conversation; Laura did such a good job describing how children create stories to try to make sense of their world, and how those stories stick around even when circumstances change. Here’s to you and to your healing. <3

  6. WOW, Caroline. I am a writer, yet this interview left me speechless. I hadn’t heard of Laura and didn’t know anything about her story, but it just touched my heart. Even though I haven’t walked a similar path as Laura, so much of what she said really spoke to me … breaking free of our “shame stories” …others rebelling against our boundaries … speaking our truths.

    And, Laura’s post that went viral? YOWZA. It had me in tears because I felt her pain. Love, love, LOVED this interview, and appreciate you sharing it with us.

    • Marcy, your comment gives me such a lift; thank you. It means the world to know that Laura’s story touched your heart. (And I completely agree with you r.e. Laura’s post – yowza is the word!)

      As Glennon Melton often says, the most revolutionary thing we can do is introduce people to each other, so I’m glad you two fellow writers could “meet” here.

      PS – Was there a particular shame story or boundary issue that came to mind in your own life? Just curious.

      • I was raised to be a people-pleaser, so boundaries have been a struggle my entire life. I’m SO much better at them at 50, than I was at 20 (not surprising), but it still isn’t easy with those closest to me. I was very much raised to be a “nice girl”.

        In the past 24 hours of listening to your interview, I’ve shared with two different friends about “shame stories”. One is trying to get into rehab for his alcoholism, another is a gay friend who shared how disastrous it was when she told her parents about her sexuality. A wise mentor taught me years ago that we’re only as sick as our secrets …

        Thanks again, Caroline.

        • Can I get an amen?! Me too. Hats off to you for learning and practicing boundary setting!

          And how amazing that you were able to connect with your friends around the subject of shame stories so quickly! Maybe it’s one of those “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” kinds of things. 🙂

  7. Wow, Caroline, what an amazing, amazing interview. Thanks so much to you and to Laura for putting this out there and traveling so much truly important ground here. That whole thing of the story we tell ourselves around the trauma being as harmful as the trauma itself — yes. So much for those of us who long to tell our stories (or are terrified to tell our stories) to ponder here.

    • Oh, I’m so glad to hear that it resonated with you. (Makes total sense, as your work helps me to take a good look at the stories I’m telling myself.)

      And thank YOU for kicking off the series! You’ve got me dreaming about hosting a gathering (real-time or virtual) with all the interviewees … that would be so much fun!

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